The U.S. Navy Blue Angels announced new officers joining the team for the 2023 air show season including its first ever woman to fly its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
The team has had female personnel supporting other parts of the squadron such as the massive C-130J Super Hercules, but never in the cockpit of its marquee jets.
Lt. Amanda Lee, call sign “Stalin,” of Mounds View, Minnesota, currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Force Squadron 106 will pave the way, replacing one of two current members on the team. She’s already a demonstration pilot for the U.S. Navy Rhino Demo Team flying the Super Hornet.
She’s a 2013 graduate of Old Dominion University, and will be joined by Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman as new Super Hornet pilots next season as part of the core six jets that perform around the nation.
“We had an overwhelming number of applicants from all over the globe this year,” said Capt. Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels, which are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “We look forward to training our fantastic new team members, passing on the torch, and watching the incredible things this team will accomplish in 2023.”
The Blue Angels, which were originally formed in 1946, along with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds make several stops in Florida during the air show season, which runs from March-November each year.
For the remainder of 2022, the Blue Angels will return Oct. 22-23 to NAS Jacksonville for the NAS JAX Air Show and then conclude at their season as they always do with the Nov. 11-12 NAS Pensacola Homecoming Air Show. The Thunderbirds return one more time in 2022 for the Central Florida Air & Space Show in Sanford on Oct. 29-30.
Lt. Lee’s first chance Florida performance flights won’t be until the team’s 2023 schedule kicks off, and the Blue Angels have six Florida stops next year.
They include April 1-2 at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, April 15-16 at the NAS Key West Southernmost Air Spectacular at NAS Key West, April 29-30 at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show, July 8 at the Pensacola Beach Air Show, Oct. 21-22 at the Jacksonville Sea and Sky Air Show and the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show on Nov. 3-4 at NAS Pensacola.